This weekend, runners and walkers from all 50 states descend upon Missoula for what's likely to be an amazing—if not, brutal—workout. The Missoula Marathon and Half-Marathon, if you hadn't heard, was recently voted the Best Overall Marathon by readers of Runner's World magazine. The event begins Sun., July 11, at 5 AM for walkers, and at 6 AM for runners, at either the Clark Fork Valley Bank in Frenchtown (for the full marathon), or at Missoula's Peak Health & Wellness Center (for the half-marathon.) If you think you have the skills to run or walk this race, you still have time to sign up. In fact, race registration closes at 6 PM Sat., July 10. Click to missoulamarathon.org to register, or head to the Missoula Marathon Expo, which runs from 8 AM–6 PM at Caras Park, to register in person. $220 for the relay/$85 for the marathon/$70 for the half-marathon. You can also save a few bucks if you register by July 9. And if, by chance, you don't want to work your legs too hard, you can still catch some runners in action (like those pictured) by spectating from the finish line at the north end of the Higgins Avenue bridge. Also, stick around for post-race events and awards ceremonies, which start promptly at 8 AM at Caras Park.
With that info implanted in your dome, it's time to go back a few days. On Fri., July 9, you can make our earthen mother proud by signing up for the UM Wilderness Institute's second weed monitoring trip up in the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area with a jaunt to Deep Creek Loop that runs until Sun., July 11. Expect to enjoy stunning views of the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests on this trip, while also working hard to map and monitor weeds. You'll also inventory campsites, roads and trails, and document creatures you see. If you know your way around the backwoods, that's a good thing too. But it certainly isn't a pre-requisite to join. Call 243-5361 to RSVP or visit www.cfc.umt.edu/wi/.
If you're feeling lazy and just want to get high from gazing at nebulae, fixate your sights on Blue Mountain's observatory, which hosts another public observation night at 10:30 PM Fri., July 9. Free. Visit www.physics.umt.edu/bluemountain for directions, and call 243-5179 for cancellation updates.
As soon as you get your buzz from the stars, head home and rest easy, since Sat. is packed fuller than a can of pork brains in milk gravy. Or something similar.
On Sat., July 10, those of you up north can rise with the sun to meet with the Flathead Audubon Society for some high country bird watchin' in Glacier National Park, which begins with a 6 AM meet-up at the Apgar Visitor Center in the park. What follows is a moderately laborious, but equally rewarding, outing up Piegan Pass, where the sight of boreal chickadees and white-tailed ptarmigans ought to make you pant with joy. Free, but a park entrance fee or park pass is required. Call Steve to RSVP at 892-7406. Also, don't space your binocs and lunch.
Or stay closer to Missoula to hang with your fluttery friends when the Montana Natural History Center (MNHC), 120 Hickory St., teams up Sat., July 10, with the American Butterfly Association for the 2010 Missoula Butterfly Count, which occurs in the Spring Gulch area and begins with a carpool meet up at 8:30 AM at the MNHC. Shortly after this, a full day of hiking, butterfly catching, identifying and counting awaits you. $3 per person. Bring appropriate gear, lunch, and lots of yerba mate. Or water. Call 327-0405.
Rugrats get their running fill on Sat., July 10, during the Missoula Kids' Marathon, which is closed for registration but open to watch starting at 11 AM at Caras Park.
Later on Sat., July 10, they can bug out with insects during the Missoula Children and Nature/Montana Natural History Center's "Big on Bugs" activity, which begins at 2 PM at Silver's Lagoon near Currents Aquatics Center, 600 Cregg Lane. Free. Your little bugger can expect an insect investigation session, an appearance by Ollie Osprey for the debut of a kids' interpretive trail at the lagoon, as well as a bug catching activity. Kids also need to be with their parents, and should bring a pillowcase, wire coat hanger and stick to build an insect net. Call Maria at 531-9959.
Those of you who aren't so keen on running the Missoula Marathon, but still have a running itch to scratch, shouldn't miss the Hellgate Village 5k on Sat., July 10, which begins at 5 PM at Caras Park. The race takes you along the Clark Fork River, and also serves as a benefit for the Missoula Alzheimer's Support Group. $15/$13 Run Wild Missoula members/$45 families/$40 families for Run Wild Missoula members. Register at runwildmissoula.org, or in-person just before the race at the Missoula Marathon Expo at Caras Park.
On Mon., July 12, run (or walk) over to UM's Outdoor Program in the Fitness and Recreation Center so you can sign up for a Fundamentals of Kayaking Class, which begins Thu., July 15, at 8:30 PM at UM's Grizzly Pool. $185, includes instruction, equipment, and transportation for field days on the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers. Visit life.umt.edu/CREC/Outdoor/classes.php and call 243-5172. While you're at it, you should also sign up for an Outdoor Program-sponsored Rock Climbing Class on July 23–24. $45, with registration due July 14.
I'll leave you with another reminder that you still have time to register for CASA of Montana's Park2Park Montana ride, as registration is due Thu., July 15. Visit park2park montana.org and call 1-866-863-2272.
Until then, I'll see you at the finish line.